Verdict, The (1946)

The Verdict (1946), directed by Don Siegel.

Nicely atmospheric Victorian murder mystery, with lots of London fog and dark interiors lit by gaslight. "Suggested" by Israel Zangwill's The Big Bow Mystery, one of the earliest locked room stories. Don Siegel's first full length film.

Police Superintendent Sydney Greentreet's evidence sends an innocent man to the gallows and he resigns in disgrace. I'm not sure why everyone blames him; he did an honest, thorough job and the prosecutor, judge and jury also contributed.

When an impossible murder occurs in his neighborhood, he and pal Peter Lorre watch in delight as the new Superintendent fumbles the case. Lorre is wonderfully decadent: "I've always wanted to see a grave opened. Especially at night. It's exciting."

I think it's best not to give away the solution to this one. The final ten minutes are a study in plot misdirection. The film is a bit talky and plot-heavy but entertaining despite that.

Warner Archive title, available for rent from ClassicFlix.